Last night’s YouGov poll also included questions on Scottish independence, while ICM carried out parallel English and Scottish polls for the Sunday Telegraph. YouGov found strong support for a referendum on Scottish independence, with 61% of people supporting holding a referendum (including 76% of respondents in Scotland), although as we’ve noted before, referendums are intrinsically popular – I’ve yet to see a poll question showing people don’t want a referendum on something!

On timing, the balance of support in Britain as a whole seems to be for a referendum earlier than 2014. In YouGov’s poll 36% support a referendum this year or next year, 23% support a referendum in 2014, 7% later. ICM found a similar balance in England – 52% supporting a referendum as soon as possible compared to 25% who would prefer a referendum in 2014. In Scotland, however, there is more support for a delay to 2014 – ICM’s Scottish poll found 43% support a referendum as soon as possible, 41% support a delay. In YouGov’s Scottish subsample 25% would like a referendum this year or next year, 52% would refer a delay until 2014.

Asked about the referendum, neither poll had a straight “how would you vote” quesion. In YouGov’s poll they asked if people would support or oppose Scotland becoming a country independent from the UK. Overall 37% of people supported Scottish independence, 39% opposed it. Amongst respondents in Scotland the split was 45% support/ 45% oppose, amongst respondents in England the split was 36% support and 39% oppose.

ICM asked if people approved or disapproved of Scottish independence – in Scotland the split was similar to YouGov’s: 40% approved, 43% disapproved. In ICM’s English poll there was higher support, 43% of English respondents approved, 32% disapproved.

ICM also asked what people’s preference would be in a three question referendum – in Scotland 37% said they would prefer the status quo, 26% full tax and spending control, 26% full independence (Of course, if there was a 3 question referendum it looks as though it would be two seperate questions, not one three way question)

ICM found that 51% of English respondents thought that Scotland would be worse off if independent, with only 23% thinking they’d be better off. In Scotland the split was 38% of respondents who thought Scotland would be better off, 41% worse off. YouGov asked similar questions for both Scotland and England – again, a majority of respondents in England thought that Scotland would be worse off outside the union, with Scottish respondents more evenly split. For the English question, 36% of respondents in England thought that England would be better off without Scotland, 17% worse off. Most Scottish respondents thought that England would be worse off without Scotland.

In short, English respondents tend to think that Scotland gains more from the Union than England does, and in ICM’s poll at least this makes them more likely to support Scottish independence. Scottish respondents remain more divided about whether the Union benefits Scotland or not, and hence opinions on Scottish independence are also more evenly divided.

As we head towards a referendum there will no doubt be an awful lot more polling on Scottish independence. The figures on how people would vote in a referendum are probably not very meaningful right now – that’s one thing we should learn from the AV referendum – more important right now is understanding the broader opinions and concerns that lay behind those opinions and I expect we’ll have a lot more to mull over in the weeks and months to come.


287 Responses to “YouGov and ICM polls on Scottish Independence”

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  1. Well, if (and it’s a big if) this reflects the way things will eventually turn out, then it’s probably the worst possible result. A narrow victory or defeat would store up significant resentment and unlike a general election you have to assume that there wouldn’t be a re-run in five years.

  2. There are important questions to be answered: Would the Union Jack still have a blue background, if Scotland wasn’t part of the UK anymore? ;-)

  3. Early on Monday, the Government will announce a measure end the uncertainty over Scottish independence and resolve much more besides. In 2013, the people of England, Wales and NI will be asked to vote on a referendum to secede from Scotland, on condition that the new state of South Britain will refuse to join the Euro and will thus automatically have its application to join the EU refused. SNP MPs will be accused of double standards as they decide to participate in the parliamentary vote on the referendum bill, in the knowledge that the only sure way for Scotland to gain independence is if it’s left to the English, Welsh and N Irish to decide. Ed Miliband and Ed Balls say they”ll accept South Britain’s likely withdrawal from the EU, arguing that while they wouldn’t have gone that far and that fast, they can’t commit to finding the money in 2015 for a referendum to reverse the decision.

  4. PS. And in order to remain within what’s left of the UK, the Bank of England will relocate to Edinburgh and Scotland will of course continue to use the pound.

  5. These polls do seem to vindicate the idea that devo-max will play into unionist rather than nationalist hands (assuming unionists are happy with devo-max): most devo-max suporters seem to choose independence over the union when forced to pick between independence and the status quo.

  6. There is a consensus in Scotland:

    1 We should have a referendum

    2 The first preference of many would be more devolution.

    3 Anybody who claims to know which way it will go is a partisan trying to persuade you.

    4 Any Tory leader who says anything about anything delivers more votes to the SNP (Annabel Goldie excepted, maybe, sometimes) .

    5 Any proposal which appears to be the UK government trying to influence the question or process will be counter-poductive.

    We can argue about the rest, but as Oldnat says the SNP have been thinking about it for 40 years [I’d say more] and the unionists are just beginning. So many of the agruments London party managers will promote are those to which the SNP and the wider Scottish public have known the answers for years.

    Another difficulty for the Unionists is consistency.

    Scotland will be poorer? Why should England keep paying these subsidy junkies with a bloated public sector?

    England will be worse financially or otherwise worse off? That’s not a very persuasive argument why Scots should stay, is it?

    There are some staggeringly stupid arguments put forward by Unionists.

    England should get the chance to vote?

    Just like in a referendumfor the UK to leave the EU, 25 other Nations should get the chance to vote, especially the French and Germans. The concept is SELF-determination, and the clue is in the first part.

    Just the thing to persuade Scots that the real reason is something quite different. (Trident, Security Council, Oil)

  7. These are interesting poll findings in the sense that, up to now, Salmond and the SNP have been in the ascendancy with much of the debate on independence going their way by default. If, in those favourable circumstances, there is still a narrow majority against independence amongst Scottish voters, how may those figures move when the pro-Union forces (i.e. everyone else bar the SNP) start to mobilise and prosecute their arguments in a coherent way? When that happens, I suspect the already narrow majority to retain the Union will widen considerably.

    If I’m right, is this as good as it gets for Mr Salmond and his independence crusade? And might this not explain his rather peculiar war cry; “We want our freedom, but not for a bit if you don’t mind!”

    Come on Alex, you can do better than that, surely, you wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie!! lol

  8. Well Iam happy with both polls in that in each the gap between for or against is less than the dk’s.

    As Anthony points out where as the eye immediately goes to the top line figures what comes out is the long established difference between the two sides of the border on who gets the best deal.

    It seems whatever side your own the grass is greener on the other side. Both sets of voters feel the other side has never had it so good.

    The Scottish support for 2014 is interesting as it may suggest that Scots have decide that they may be split on how to vote but they are backing the SNP in saying ” It’s our pol and we’ll decide who votes on , when and on what”

    That represents a bit of a dilemma for Cameron; intervention may well be seen as counterproductive but can he be seen as backing down on timing and other issues in a show down with Salmond.

    I am not so cynical as to think that both his intervention on Independence and the HS2 announcement were as much about keeping Ed off the front page when he relaunched as anything else, but I do think that having had a boost in the polls from standing up for the UK over the EU, especially in terms of his personal ratings for strength and leadership he may have thought he could do the same again.

    That might be shades of Blair, in that he is good at media, presentation and tactics but too keen to always be ahead on every issue to remember that after a while tailoring the messages to much fit todays headlines inevitably leads to contradicting yourself when the situation changes.

    Cameron was strong on Sunday through to Tuesday but I think it’s evens or he is behind a week later. The problem with a boost from looking strong is you have to keep doing it.

    It will be interesting to see how Labours support for the public sector pay freeze and accepting the cuts will go down in Scotland over the next week or so and how Labour deal with it at Holyrood?

    I am 100% with Anthony on the huge limitations created by the sample size in Scottish polls but I keep a close eye on the SNP v SLAB shares and the has been a clear closing of the gap in the Westminster polls over the last 18 months.

    Just over a year or so ago you rarely saw the SNP in a UK poll half of SLABs share for Westminster, now it’s not uncommon to see them ahead, though it’s not the norm.

    In the same week that Ed’s relaunch was less than Labour hoped, he had a mediocre showing at PMQ’s and backed Cameron on the referendum, he is now seemingly backing Tory cuts.

    At FMQT, the new Labour leader said that Salmond was offering a false prospectus of “Scotland or the Tories”, I suspect that’s going to come back to haunt her this week. It’s not hard to see how it suits the SNP to claim that all the “London Parties are the same”.

    Cllr Peter Cairns (SNP)

  9. Anthony the You Gov poll you mention has a very small Scottish sample of just around 150, and therefore I question the worthiness of the 45% to 45% that you mention. there were soem very excellent polls from You Gov a few days that were better samples

  10. I am surprised that yes and no are so close and so high.

    I guess there was a don’t know option as the totals dont add up to 100%.

    It will be interesting on what frequency these polls will be conducted, particularly around key points – westminster budget etc and what effect these have on the figures.

  11. It seems as you can see that there as two Peter Cairns’ posting here… I am the second one…. And the original. Anthony has been aware of the issue for some time and it’s a minor irritation that I no longer bother him with.

    The problem with posting as yourself and linking it to your official web site to verify your identity is that anyone can use my Highland Council e-mail address to post in your name.

    I’ve though about posting anonymously but I think I’ll stick to being open about who I am so you can judge me accordingly knowing my affiliations. To many blogs are filled with bile from people who are only brave enough to say it from the shadows.

    As it is most of what my shadow has been posting is short and inoffensive so it’s not really that much of a problem.

    Cllr Peter Cairns (SNP)

  12. Crossbat

    ” ….. how may those figures move when the pro-Union forces (i.e. everyone else bar the SNP) start to mobilise and prosecute their arguments in a coherent way?”

    What chance is there of that?

    What chance is there of the converse?

  13. CROSSBAT11

    ” how may those figures move when the pro-Union forces (i.e. everyone else bar the SNP) start to mobilise and prosecute their arguments in a coherent way?”

    This debate has been going on in Scotland for a very long time. If the pro-Union forces haven’t mobilised, then that only applies south of the Border. I do agree that they have had little coherence so far, of course. :-)

  14. Any Tory leader who says anything about anything delivers more votes to the SNP.
    —————————–
    I don’t think that is true at all.

    If the Prime Minister of the UK can’t speak to Scottish Tories & the politically non-aligned about the future of our country without the SNP & their supporters taking offence, then there is a sickness here which a responsible First Minister would deplore, not encourage.

    Alex Salmond needs to grow up.
    8-)

  15. Why is DC on the Unionist side.

    We Tories should be teaming up with the SNP, our goals are the same.

    Give SNP Scotland’s independence and First Minister Salmond, and allow the Tories in London to govern unhindered by 41 Scottish Labour MP’s. With the Scottish MP’s removed there is no longer a hung parliament and we can defuse from the coaltion and then restore England and Wales (NI can sod off too) to prosperity with a Conservative majority.

    I just hope it happens before the end of 2014, I’ve heard talk of Nov 2014, which would only leave 6 months until the next general election, not a lot of time to fix the economy.

  16. Oldnat

    Don’t you think that the debate will be cranked up a few levels as we approach the referendum? There are a number of serious questions that will need answered.

  17. Anyone know what currency Scotland will be using? They’d be a fool to join the Euro and George hopefully will stop them using the pound.

    Why doesn’t Alex give Scotland a new currency, The Salmond, to demonstrate just what a modest leader he is.

  18. @AMBER

    “Would the Union Jack still have a blue background, if Scotland wasn’t part of the UK anymore?”

    A Disunion Jack? :)

  19. As for the flag. The red cross of England remains centre obviously.

    There are 2 options I forsee

    1) The Welsh dragon in the 4 corners, with the hand symbol of Ulster in the middle on the cross.

    2) The st patrick cross currently on the flag remains and you can add, the welsh dragon to the centre of the cross

  20. Aidy

    The debate will undoubtedly intensify.

  21. I actually think it looks quite nice without Scotland.

    http://tinypic.com/r/kechzt/5

    Still prefer the Union flag as it currently is but the loss of Scotland wouldnt be major

  22. The Reform Scotland MSP’s are a group whose opinion would be seriously considered as objective and sincerely promoted in Scotland’s rather than in party interest.

    They would have been supported by a substantial section of voters had they put their proposals forward a decade ago.

    They won’t be heard in the shouting and their solution is too late to work. It could have led to a federal Britain and the best of both worlds.

    The time to consider whether you were right to assume that your wife has had a fair deal and isn’t going to leave you is not when her bags are already in the hall packed and the taxi has been called.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-15898963

  23. Devo max is a horrible idea that just gives Scotland everything. You can’t have it both ways Scotland.

    You either want the benefits of being in the UK and pay tax, or you get out. None of this, we’ll be in the UK but raise taxes in Scotland and spend in Scotland.

    Na ah, aint gonna fly.

  24. Max

    You could always combine your two concepts.

    Where the digits of the Red Hand were in relation to bits of the Dragon’s anatomy might cause some problems, however.

  25. Oldnat

    I am surprised. I didn’t have you down as the sort of contributor that would turn discussion about a new flag into one of indiscreet innuendo.

    I’d expect if from Amberstar sure ;) but not you :P

  26. The economic issue about independence is silly; half the countries of the world would not exist on that argument. Independence is about a sense of; different history, different culture, different language etc. Scotland clearly has all that.

    Summed up by the way Scotland / England football (soccer) games can not happen as the two countries are different and so their supporters try to murder each other at these games.

    I bet no-one on this site first thinks of themselves as being British / United Kingdomish. We all think of our nationality as being English / Scottish / Wels / NI / perhaps Cornish.

    That’s why Scotland should be a separate country again; none of us see ourselves as UK first.

    The genie in the bottle will not be destroyed; the issue of independence is now being treated as a serious issue. Even if it is lost this time which I dont think it will be, it will win next time; consider the devolution debate of the 1970s/ 1980s …

  27. Max

    OK. I understand your pain, confusion and anger. Irrational responses like yours are really quite common when some of the basics of your gestalt are threatened.

    Ignore those, who tell you to bottle up the rage. Get it out there, and allow your soul to cleanse itself.

    When you are calm again, we can have a quiet chat about how governance can be improved for everyone.

  28. ‘MAX KING OF THE FANTASTIC COUNTY OF KENT
    Devo max is a horrible idea that just gives Scotland everything. You can’t have it both ways Scotland.’

    Silly point. You can easily have a federal system of govt in the UK; it’s popular in places like the USA, France, Germany, Sth Africa, Australia etc…

    Westminster to do defence / foreign Affairs , National govts to do the rest.

    No problem, and far more logical than the silliness of now.

  29. As a long-time observer of the Scottish political scene (though nowhere near as long as oldnat!) I have to say that both polls are pretty encouraging for supporters of independence. It’s all to play for as far as I can see.

    Max: I have to admit the idea of the Salmond, perhaps sub-divided into 100 Sturgeons, is a nice idea for a new currency. Not sure how George could stop Scotland using the pound though…

  30. @ Jack

    I bet no-one on this site first thinks of themselves as being British / United Kingdomish.
    —————————
    What am I, then – the invisible woman?
    8-)

  31. ‘MAX KING OF THE FANTASTIC COUNTY OF KENT
    Anyone know what currency Scotland will be using? They’d be a fool to join the Euro’

    Nothing wrong with the German Euro.

    It’s the amount govts have borrowed which is the key issue; ask Hungary / Iceland

  32. Amber

    You are a freak. There is always a statistical anomaly.

  33. Amber

    Invisible woman? Of course not – unless you take off those bandages round your head of course! :-)

  34. Actually, Mad Max has made an interesting point. If Scotland votes for independence then clearly they are claiming the right to self-determination – hard to disagree with it.

    If they vote for devo max… then actually their position is much weaker. What is the basis (other than hope) for the position?

  35. @Jack

    “Silly point. You can easily have a federal system of govt in the UK;”

    From my understanding, Devo Max is not a federal system, the system I’ve seen advocated is that Scotland would be in charge of all the revenue it makes in tax.

    In federal systems you pay tax to both the region/state, and the federal government. If Salmond wanted this and put additional taxes on Scotland, on top of the already in place national taxes, then by all means be my guest.

  36. Amber

    “If the Prime Minister of the UK can’t speak to Scottish Tories & the politically non-aligned ….”

    Speaking to Scottish Conservatives is preaching to the choir.

    The politically non aligned don’t listen to, or vote for UK Conservatives. They now vote SNP, tll recently they voted LibDem in the Highlands and Labour elsewhere.

    “about the future of our country without the SNP & their supporters taking offence, then there is a sickness here which a responsible First Minister would deplore, not encourage.”

    He does deplore it I’m sure. The gross ignorance of Scotland of both Lab and Con of both parties is what turns the non-aligned into SNP supporters. The cack-handed proposal last week to take control of the Referendum and place a limit on the time is just the first example. There will be many more.

    “Alex Salmond needs to grow up.”

    That comment should have been snipped. On other matters you are probably able to self -censor.

    Perhaps this is a sign of panic in SLAB. I shall certainly look for confirmation of that hypothesis.

    SLAB certainly has a difficulty. I think they need bavarianisation just as much as the Conservatives.

    Independence will be good for both parties. The SNP may divide.

  37. @ Jack

    You are a freak.
    ——————————
    Same 2 U but double it :razz:

    There’s actually polling for British Futures that show quite a decent % of us consider ourselves British 1st or British = to any other nationality.
    8-)

  38. Jack

    Please don’t insult Amber. I’m her pal – that’s my privilege! :-)

  39. There are further polls from You Gov here from a few days ago that Anthony has not mentioned. Unlike todays You Gov, they are good sized samples from England / Wales and Scotland. The link is here

    http://labs.yougov.co.uk/news/categories/politics/

    You Gov suggests that the post May 2011 election support for independence has peaked – for now.

    We also need to remember that the last time ICM asked the questions that appear in todays Daily Telegraph was November 2006, again here is the link

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1535193/Britain-wants-UK-break-up-poll-shows.html

    Since 2006, todays ICM poll would suggest quite a significant improvement in unionist fortunes.

    Finally Max King Of The Fantastic County of Kent January 15th, 2012 at 9:18 pm. It is a myth that Labour suffers without Scotland. As mentioned on Question Time last Thursday, Labour has won 9 elections since the war, and without Scottish Labour MPs would still have won eight of them!

  40. @Oldnat

    I’m curious as to whether you could help answer my question.

    Why does Alex Salmond want to hold off on the referendum, why did he promise it to be at the end of the Scottish parliament term.

    Now I have my own idea why this could be, but I was wondering, what the official SNP position on this matter is. I know you don’t speak for the SNP but as a member/supporter, hopefully you’d know the reasoning behind this policy. Why does Alex want another 3 years before the question is put to the public?

  41. @ John B Dick

    I’m not taking it back & I don’t think Anthony will snip it. It is not grown up politics to behave the way that Alex Salmond is behaving & that is ‘fair’ comment, not stupid name calling or pointless insults.

    AS is not a scrappy back-bencher now, he is First Minister – expected to represent all the people of Scotland, not just those who agree with him. He should behave accordingly.

    I would say the same about anybody; actually, I believe I did during the Sarkosy/ Cameron spat.
    8-)

  42. Max King Of The Fantastic County of Kent

    “I just hope it happens before the end of 2014, I’ve heard talk of Nov 2014, which would only leave 6 months until the next general election, not a lot of time to fix the economy.”

    I think DC wants to keep Scotland for Trident, the security council and avoiding being pressured by his right into leaving the EU.

    It appears from your last paragraph that you are hamstrung about doing anything useful about the economy for four and a half years because of the LibDems but freed from reliance on them you might just manage to sort 13 years of Labour misrule and four years of stagnation in six months!

    No matter what the outcome of the referendum, you won’t be rid of Scotland till late 2015 or after.

  43. @ Old Nat

    Please don’t insult Amber. I’m her pal – that’s my privilege!
    ————————-
    ROFLOL :-) What are ‘family’ for, if not that?

  44. @John B Dick

    “but freed from reliance on them you might just manage to sort 13 years of Labour misrule and four years of stagnation in six months!”

    Actually I addressed that very point. My exact words were

    “’ve heard talk of Nov 2014, which would only leave 6 months until the next general election, not a lot of time to fix the economy”

    and yes we are slowed down by the lib dems, we cant go as far as we’d like because they wouldn’t support it, now on some things, this is actually a good thing, see healthcare, but overall they are a burden to us.

  45. @Peter Cairns

    “John Swinney has confirmed that Scotland will be keeping GBP sterling”

    You seem to be labouring under the likely false assumption that the UK would allow you to use our currency.

    Even if we did, how cool, getting to control a foreign country’s interest rates, a foreign country that we don’t have any motivation to help.

    It’d set up a Sterling zone. And unlike the Eurozone where the ECB has a duty to all members, the BOE would continue to have a duty only to the UK, not Scotland.

  46. Max

    I can do no more to speculate on party strategies than you can do.

    We could equally speculate as to why the Unionist parties have made a sudden shift from wanting no referendum, to wanting one now.

    Tactically, the first of the UK and Scottish Governments to blink and publish their consultation documents, lost.

  47. TheSheep

    “If they vote for devo max… then actually their position is much weaker. What is the basis (other than hope) for the position?”

    Efficient government respectful of differences in geography topology sparsity culture religion history and values.

    It doesn’t stand a chance in the culture of Westminster.

  48. @ Cllr Cairns

    How will AS & JS prevent everybody shifting their money out of Scotland before it changes over to whatever it’s going to be?

    When the other countries moved to the euro, their currency was defunct. The GBP won’t be. Have fun with propping up the Scottish banks when everybody moves their GBP to the UK before ‘you’ take us into the euro.
    8-)

  49. @Oldnat

    Well from that response I think you think the same as me but don’t want to say it.

    The SNP want a referendum as late as possible to try and galvanise support for independence. Labour, Lib Dems, and probably the majority of Conservatives want it early because you are likely to lose at the moment.

    And a lot of Conservatives/ right wing English, like myself, want it as early as possible to get rid of Scotland as soon as possible.

    I don’t know if you saw Question Time last week, but I agreed with the guy from the Daily Mail, tactically, the conservatives who are against independence are fools and clearly just have a genuine love of the union, and pride of having the whole UK.

    The more tactically minded like myself would like to see Scotland gone and therefore want them to go as soon as possible.

  50. Jack:

    REGIONAL governments, not national ones. The North of England is a significantly different place to the South, and I’d be a founder member of the Northern Nationalist Party if we up here were forced against our will into a Parliament with nothing but yon Southerners. We have a different social history to the South of England, a different economic history, a different political outlook – hell, we even have a more authentically Olde English dialect here than the effete Normanite Quislings down South.

    With our fine tradition of producing leading scientists and engineers (Newton, Thompson, Chadwick, Priestley, Eddington, Harrison, the Stephensons) we Northerners really WOULD lead the March of the Makers once freed from the vampire embrace of the City financiers.

    Northerners Unite. You have nothing to lose but your mildly pessimistic, introspective, self-deprecatory outlook.

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